Nationwide Call for ‘Martha’s Rule’ after Tragic Death at King’s Hospital

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In the grim aftermath of her daughter’s avoidable death at King’s College Hospital, Merope Mills advocates for enhanced patients’ rights. The ill-fated incident has sparked a nationwide appeal for the introduction of “Martha’s Rule,” a proposition that empowers families with the legal right to seek a second medical opinion regarding the care of their loved ones.

Martha Mills, Merope’s daughter, met her untimely demise two years prior, succumbing to septic shock from a poorly treated injury to her pancreas. A grisly bicycle accident served as the catalyst, but it’s underscored that the subsequent Hospital care, or lack thereof, led to her demise.

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Miscommunication led to her life-threatening condition being downplayed as an expected side-effect of the infection, a statement given by doctors who overlooked her deteriorating condition. Upon reflection, the King’s College Hospital Trust expressed deep regret, admitting that they failed Martha and should have heeded her parents’ concerns.

The coroner’s inquest stated that Martha’s life would have been spared had her treatment been more proficient. Her mother, Mills, addressed the disparity in trust, pleading for doctors to reciprocate the faith laid in them by patients and their families.

Mills aims to propagate “Martha’s Rule” across hospitals, granting the right for patients, parents, and caregivers to demand a review of their treatment by other medical professionals. However, differing views persist, with NHS England Medical Director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, advocating for individual hospital approaches.

Professor Powis emphasized the significance of patients and their families being heard and acknowledged the efforts of NHS England to ensure their voices are not subdued. Mills applauded the initiative for mandated changes but expressed her concerns about the complexity underlying varying methodologies, underscoring the importance of “clarity over complexity.”

Mills further shared her distressing experience with the BBC’s Today programme, iterating the heart-breaking ordeal of watching a loved one’s life slip away while grappling with bureaucratic formalities.

This tragic incident has catalyzed political action as well, with Health Secretary Stephen Barclay affirming to explore the implementation of Martha’s Rule. He considers it a potential approach to enhance patient safety and avoid fatalities akin to Martha’s. Mills also has a scheduled meeting with Labour’s shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting, steering attention towards possible deficiencies in the NHS’s weekend service provision, following Martha’s tragic demise during a bank holiday weekend.